To be honest, most of us would probably admit that our prayer life isn’t what we’d like it to be. I look at Paul’s prayers in the New Testament and realize how shallow my prayers are in comparison. I’ve started praying through his prayers for others in my time alone with God, and it has helped me focus my prayers on things that are eternal, and not just temporal.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote in his book, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount,
“Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God.”
E.M. Bounds in his book, Purpose in Prayer, reminds us of how we must cultivate our fellowship with the Lord:
“Prayer is not a meaningless function or duty to be crowded into the busy or the weary ends of the day, and we are not obeying our Lord’s command when we content ourselves with a few minutes upon our knees in the morning rush or late at night when the faculties, tired with the tasks of the day, call out for rest … we can never get to know Him if we use the vehicle of prayer as we use the telephone, for a few words of hurried conversation.”
Ouch. Those words sting a little!
So what hinders us from prayer?
Lack of discipline
We’re too busy, and prayer gets crowded out by the urgent things in life. Yes, we can pray throughout the day while we’re driving, working, or cooking. But we also need some alone time with God to put aside distractions and just focus on Him.
Lack of belief
We don’t believe God will do anything, so we just don’t bother to ask.
Lack of intimacy
We may not feel close to God and He seems distant. As a result, we don’t want to talk to Him.
Lack of need
We tend to pray less when life is going great and we don’t sense any great need. But, when circumstances overwhelm us, we are drawn to our knees in prayer. Sometimes we falsely assume that prayer is only necessary when something comes along that’s too big for us to handle by ourselves.
I am guilty of all four of these hindrances at times.
Charles Spurgeon said,
“Prayer pulls the rope below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly. Others give but an occasional pluck at the rope. But he who wins with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously, with all his might.”
How do you pray? Do you scarcely stir the bell, or do you grab onto that rope boldly and pull it continuously with all your might? Use one of Paul’s prayers to guide you through praying for someone today.